Archive for November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from the entire Boutari Social Media Staff!

November 24, 2010

It’s not exactly a “cast of thousands” over here at the Boutari Social Media Project 2010. In fact, it’s just little ol’ me, all by my lonesome.

It’s been a super fun year so far and I’m so GRATEFUL to everyone who’s been following on Facebook and on Twitter and all the great bloggers who have contributed by letting me repost their tasting notes and insights into the AMAZING wines of Greece.

So, from the ENTIRE Boutari Social Media Project 2010 staff, we would like to wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We’ll see you on Monday… lots of great stuff to come before the Christmas holiday… stay tuned!

Don’t ask me what Xinomavro tastes like (answer: it tastes like Xinomavro!)

November 24, 2010

Last night, Tracie P and I opened a bottle of the 2004 Grand Reserve Naoussa by Boutari, a new vintage for us.

I’ve tasted a lot of Boutari’s Naoussa over the last year, including some older vintages stretching back to the 1980s. I also got to taste older vintages from other top producers when I was in New York this spring for the Greek wine events.

The 2004 was fresher and cleaner than the 2003. Where the seemingly hotter vintage 03 has a dominant stewed tomato note and a richer mouthfeel, this wine was bright and was dominated by red berry and wild berry fruit — probably my favorite bottling of the wine in recent vintages.

The 2003 received high praise and scores from leading English-language wine publications, imho, because the riper and richer nature of the vintage appeals greatly to the American sensibility.

It was the first time I tasted the 04 vintage but I believe it will be remembered as a “classic” expression of this unique grape and perhaps one of the more varietally expressive vintages in recent memory: Xinomavro is one of those intriguing red grapes that captures power in a light-bodied wine, tannin in a bright color, fresh fruit balanced by savory tannin.

I couldn’t help but think of the conundrum that has presented itself over and over this year as I’ve been working on and participating in the Boutari Social Media project: what grape is Xinomavro like? Many compare it to Pinot Noir and the worst offenders compare it to Nebbiolo. (BTW, f I hear one more person say that Mt. Etna is the new Burgundy, I’m going to heave!)

Xinomavro doesn’t taste like any of these. It does, however, belong (not genetically but categorically) to the noble family of red grapes — Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Aglianico, Pignolo, or Trousseau, for example — where light color and body are combined with powerful tannin and structure (Grignolino, believe it or not, is another Italian red grape in this group.)

While the wood on the 04 Naoussa needs some time to integrate with the wine, I’m looking forward to what this wine is going to do in the cellar and a few bottles will sit side-by-side with my 04 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco.

Don’t ask me what grape it tastes like: it tastes like Xinomavro!

—Jeremy Parzen (blogmaster)

Tracie P on Kallisti Reserve 2007

November 16, 2010

Tracie P is the author of My Life Italian, a blog devoted to Italy, Italian food and wine, delivered with her Texas twang.

Last night, Jeremy P and I had the good fortune to try a bottle of Boutari’s 2007 Kallisti Reserve Santorini, made using the Assyrtiko grape. We are no strangers to their entry level Santorini. In fact we’ve been known to buy it by the case.

The Kallisti, however, is aged in wood and rested on its lees. This is a style of wine-making that we might normally avoid, but there is an exception to every rule and this one is it. This is a wine built for aging.

We’ve tasted older vintages (1993 and 1989) and we can attest that the acidity alone acts as a fountain of youth. The oak and batonnage, instead of being a cumbersome cover-up to the fruit, is a well-integrated and graceful brush stroke that adorns the beauty of the canvas.

When Jeremy told me what the wine of the evening would be, I decided to try a new recipe that, although Italian, seemed tailor-made for Kallisti. I suspected that a savory pie of potatoes and leeks would be just earthy and rich enough to stand up to the hardy flavors of the wine, while giving the acidity something to cling to.

Mission successful, we had a stellar pairing.

Color: light gold with honeyed hues
Nose: delicate nuttiness with a deeper hint of salt-preserved lemons.
Taste: There is a bright acidity, citrus rind, and sea-spray minerality. This trademark salinity is present in the entry-level Santorini as well, but goes deeper and finishes longer in the Kallisti.

This is a winter-worthy white, standing up to all of those warm and cozy meals to come. Root vegetables, you’ve met your match, and she’s a Greek goddess in a bottle.

—Tracie P

Moschofilero: the no headache wine

November 14, 2010

On Thursday night, when Tracie P and I opened bottle of Moschofilero at the end of a tiring work day, I was reminded of what the owner and wine buyer of a great Greek cafè in Chicago told me, asking rhetorically (as Greeks are often inclined to do): “Do you know why I like Boutari Moschofilero so much? It’s because it doesn’t give you a headache!”

Maria Melidis is a mother, businesswoman, restaurateur, and one of those super cool ladies who makes you laugh and smile as she explains the mysteries of the world to you. Together with her family, Maria owns and runs Artopolis and Pegasus in Chicago’s Greektown (Pegasus also has a location at Chicago’s Midway Aiport, “Pegasus on the Fly,” HA!, one of the best options for airport food I’ve ever encountered).

Maria was addressing an issue that I, as a wine professional, hear a lot of folks ask about: the proverbial “wine headache.” And while many people believe — erroneously — that the wine headache is caused by the addition of sulfites to wine, there is no doubt in my mind that the wine headache is due primarily to imbalanced alcohol levels. (Just take two glasses of 17% California Central Coast Pinot Noir and call me in the morning and tell me how you feel!)

At a wonderfully modest 11.5% alcohol, the 2009 Moschofilero by Boutari represents such a great food wine in our world and it’s perfect with intensely salty foods (like Greek or Mexican) when you need a low-alcohol wine to quench your thirst. The wine is bright and fresh, with citrus notes on the nose and in the mouth and it was ideal with some simple cheese quesadillas (topped with Herdez salsa, our favorite) we had for dinner.

Whether you’re a beloved Greek matron like Maria living in one of the historic Greek neighborhoods of the U.S. or Jewish wine blogger living in Central Texas, it’s that balanced alcohol that is going to help your body digest your food (by stimulating your stomach acid gently) without imparting the adverse effects of high-alcohol wines.

Take it from me or take it from Maria!

—Jeremy Parzen

Iron Chevsky tastes Boutari Santorini at the Old Lobster Shack

November 9, 2010

Of all the wine bloggers we know, Iron Chevsky drinks more kick-ass wine than anyone. He’s a shining example of the American dream: with every bottle of DRC, Gaja, Chave, and Raveneau he pops, he is living proof that you don’t need to be Jay McInerney to drink well every day.

We were thrilled to discover that a high-profile blogger like him would reach for Boutari Santorini when visiting his favorite lobster shack, the famed and aptly named Old Lobster Shack in Redwood City, California (Bay Area).

Here’s what Iron Chevsky had to say about Boutari Santorini and how it paired with the excellent grub served up BYOB at ye Old Lobster Shack:

Excellent acidity, rather simple like something I can see people serving as an every day wine in a Greek family restaurant (I drank it out of a tumbler), and satisfying with lobster rolls. Assyrtiko is perhaps the most well-known white wine variety from Greece. Taste-wise, somewhat of a cross between an Italian white and a Rhone white… The Assyrtiko really cut through the richness of the bisque. It was a bit heavy for the rather average clams (though they came with a deeply delicious broth). The wine was a great match for the lobster rolls and fries.

Blog on, brother Chevsky, blog on… And in case you have any trouble finishing off that bottle of 1990 Échezeaux, please give us a call!

Roozbeh Farahanipour: freedom fighter fan of Boutari

November 6, 2010

One of the most interesting things about the 2010-2011 Boutari Social Media Project has been the wide range of fascinating people we’ve met (virtually) along the way. Many of them have been Greek or Greek nationals living in the U.S. But the broad appeal of Greek cuisine and Greek wine also attracts wine lovers and restaurateurs from across the globe.

No lover of Greek wine and fan of Boutari has fascinated us more than Roozbeh Farahanipour (right), an Iranian nationalist, freedom fighter, internationally acclaimed author and activist, and owner of a wonderful neighborhood-oriented and family-friendly Greek restaurant in the Westwood-UCLA district of Los Angeles, Delphi Restaurant.

“I’m fan of Boutari, specifically the Naoussa Grande Reserve,” writes Roozbeh, “but the most popular wines at Delphi are the Kretikos red and white. Santorini also has fans, too. And we regularly serve the Naoussa, Nemea, and Moschofilero.”

You can read more about Roozbeh and what he has done for his cause on the Wiki and look for him on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Who really needs another imported Chardonnay?

November 3, 2010

There ain’t no doubt about it, Tim Teichgraeber (left) is one of the coolest wine writers we know.

Not only does this dude write a weekly column about wine for his hometown paper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he’s also a San Francisco-based entertainment lawyer who works with some of the top names in the music industry today.

We recently came across the article below, published in the Minneapolis City Pages 2010 Wine & Dine Guide, where Tim talks about the recent Greek wine renaissance and asks his readers, “who really needs another imported Chardonnay?

Rock on, Tim!

Not your Mama’s Retsina: The Greek Wine Renaissance

By Tim Teichgraeber
Minneapolis City Pages 2010 Wine & Dine Guide

Before touring Greece this year, I knew I had a lot to learn. Like Italy, Greece boasts one of the oldest wine culture of the world and has a slew of indigenous grape varieties that are unfamiliar to most Americans. My experience with Greek wines was modest, even after 20 years in the business. I did know that Greek wines were beginning to gain respect in critical circles, and I wanted to see why.

A new generation of Greek winemakers, in their late 30s and 40s, mostly educated in France, has taken the reins in Greece. They’re making extraordinary and unique wines from local grapes, sometimes blended with international varieties, and they’re teaching the next generation of Greek winemakers what they have learned abroad.

The most impressive regions to me were Nemea, where the hearty, complex Agiorgitiko or “Saint George” grape makes deep, age-worthy reds, and the island of Santorini, which makes crisp, high-acid white wines from Assyrtiko grapes that gain complexity with age.

The best Greek wines aren’t cheap. They mostly cost between $15 and $25 a bottle, and they’re not made from easy-to-spell or easy-to-pronounce grapes. What they are, though, is different, and interesting, and in the best cases, world-class delicious.

Thanks mostly to adventurous sommeliers and Greek-American importers, Greece’s best wines are finding their way to American shores. It may be a little while before Americans learn to pronounce Agiorgitiko correctly (ay-yor-YEE-tee-koh), but who really needs another imported Chardonnay?

2008 Boutari [Santorini] Assyrtiko, Santorini

A nice value from the beautiful volcanic island of Santorini. Boutari is one of Greece’s largest wineries, but it delivers good consistency at a reasonable price. This is a bracing, high-acid white wine ideal for seafood, with mouth-watering lemon zest, green apple, and mineral flavors.

2009 Boutari Moschofilero, Mantinia, Greece

One of the great Greek success stories in the last decade, the unique flavor profile of Greece’s indigenous Moschofilero (mo-sko-FEEL-ero) grape has replaced piney Retsina in the American market. It’s an incredibly aromatic, floral white wine with juicy peach, honey-suckle, and citrus flavors. The highlands of Mantinia in the Peloponnese produce Greece’s most refined Moschofilero.

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